Jason Cole: Ravens consistency will be hard to beat this month

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Football author and historian Jason Cole discusses the Ravens’ road to Super Bowl and the big moment for Lamar Jackson as a No. 1 seed with a bye in a diminished AFC playoff tournament.


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Nestor J. Aparicio, Jason Cole

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:02

W n s t Towson Baltimore and Baltimore positive celebrating 25 years with our 25 stories of glory. You can find those out of Baltimore positive. I love featuring young Luke Jones from 2008 to come out he will be in Owings Mills the next two weeks as a an accredited reporter. I we will not be at the Super Bowl, but I will be here doing the Super Bowl and we hope the ravens are in the Super Bowl. We’re doing a thing called crabcake row. The week of February 5, we’re gonna be doing some really cool charity things and I think everybody’s gonna dig and we’re doing we’ll be spilling the beans on that after Lamar Jackson wins the home game and after Baltimore becomes the host of the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1971. This guy remembers the Baltimore Colts. I’m having a good time around here this week with Lamar success and the team and abide by we and getting somewhat out of the NFL media content. You don’t see these guys anymore or gals anymore. So I get the two sort of a greatest hits and all star team here as the Ravens that by week Jason Cole was one of my all time favorites. I am wearing my curio wellness. I’m a blunt person shirt. It I don’t know that they stole it from you. But it was always your Twitter handle that you are a blunt person. I love your west coast, the East Coast, the football coverage. And you know, and I love reading your work, man and you have a book you have a new gig. But we have the best team in football. And I remember 11 years ago, you gave me a chapter title in dancing on the edge of chaos. I tell you what. Expectations are through the roof here, Jason Cole and they are expecting a third Festivus here with Lamar Jackson in a couple of weeks. A

Jason Cole  01:43

reasonable expectation. Yeah, look, I do I think they’re the best team in the league. Overall week to week. Yes. Do I think the margin is as great as say the 40 Niners victory in in Santa Clara showed no, I think they’re much closer to the team that struggled to beat the Los Angeles Rams in overtime. And so they’re a little bit up and down. But if you’re talking about week in week out, who do you like the best to play the most consistent football and who has a chance to play dominant ball at a given time? It’s the ravens, you know, and with the 40, Niners close behind. I thought that the game against the 40 Niners was an outlier. Like you just don’t get that many games between two really good teams where one has five turnovers. And the other one has zero, right. And when you do have a five turned over to zero margin, the game does get out of here, right? That that happens in the NFL. I think if those teams were to play again, that wouldn’t be how it played out. I’m not saying the Ravens wouldn’t win. I’m just saying it wouldn’t play out as lopsided as it did the first time around. But as you look forward, yeah, best team in the AFC to get with a chance to get to the Super Bowl. And this is the best version of Lamar Jackson. I think I’ve ever since. Well,

Nestor J. Aparicio  03:19

I’m plugging away with my guests here this week. And Aaron Schatz is coming on later on. And so if you hear it in whatever order around here, and I am 1570 But his TVO dva Oh, a numbers in the last 20 years of analytics and different things. My Analytics are that I watched him play 70 games and Luke tweeted on Saturday when they were behind by more than one score for the first time all year in a game where they weren’t trying and game 17. That’s pretty impressive when they had a lead at the two minute warning and all 17 games. That’s pretty impressive, right? All right, well, 16 games before they tell us

Jason Cole  03:54

how they have to play. Look, if you’re going to win a chess championship with Lamar Jackson, don’t ask him to have to make a ton of throws from behind. It’s just like with San Francisco, with Brock Purdy. And I’m not saying that they’re equal players. But their limitations are that they’re not bad. They’re not suited to play from behind. Because they’re not. They’re not overwhelming physical talents, right? They’re not Patrick mahomes in the ability to throw the ball. Lamar Jackson is a great athlete. He’s a better athlete than we’re talking about because of his ability to avoid contact. But again, is he a tight window thrower. I still don’t know if he’s a tight window throw on third and eighth and third nine. What I do know is that Baltimore hasn’t had him have to do that very much this season. Because they have have leads. With two minutes left in the game. They’ve never been behind by two scores this season. Their defense is so cool. system that they’re keeping themselves in normal game situations. And that’s what you want to do with a quarterback who’s not the greatest pure thrower, but it’s a better thrower than he was in year one in year two, like he’s improved progressively as a thrower. So you can you can play your normal, more normal offense, you just can’t I don’t know yet. If they can play for downtime in the fourth quarter with Lamar Jackson’s their quarterback, but they haven’t had to. So great. You know, it’s, you’ve had the, you’ve had the perfect recipe for success with Lamar Jackson is your quarterback, that’s the way that their Baltimore Ravens should run their team.

Nestor J. Aparicio  05:40

There’s been some indictment of Eric the cost around here draft classes with Ozzie leaving and you leave, and they haven’t won playoff games and how you put the team together. And Earl Thomas, you know, I mean, there was there are a couple of Pu moments, Brad Prashad, Perriman, some of the guys have drafted. I mean, Bateman didn’t worry the wide receiver thing over and over and over again here. Going back to Flacco, who’s now got some guys who can catch the ball. And we’ll get to him in a couple of minutes, we’ll do a whole segment on him dancing on the edge of his chaos. But in regard to the cost, and in regard to the fact that the Steelers have kept their thing together, the Bella checks that kept their thing together. You know, for a period of time Peyton had that going in New Orleans where when you keep the administration together 15 years and you keep scouts together and you keep people together. And it’s not a you know, a constant maneuvering of who’s making key decisions with personnel and with all three to $15 million of salary cap money every year, and leaving debts and leaving desperation behind in some cases, many cases. They’ve been stable. And now Eric, really over the last two, three years in drafting. But more than that, the decision to go after ro Quan Smith and put a heart transplant into the defense in the middle of the season. And then everything went wrong for their health last year. And how that’s benefited them how it motivated Patrick Queen somehow because he’s gonna go get paid elsewhere, solidifying the middle format of BK. And then the draft Kyle Hamilton, who is this swiss army knife, the Lamar thing, all of the contract, things that could have happened might have happened. They put the diminished tag on him last year, like all of these things that could have happened. They all smell really good right now, right? Well, you know, when you’re, when you’re 14, and three are whatever the hell they were there for 13 and four, and still get 13, three and 14 and two mixed up. But when they are where they are right now, you look at the totality of this and say they’ve had good fortune decent health other than Mark Andrews and Dobbins, but this has been a pretty well constructed roster that they’re not going to be able to maintain, right? I mean, they’re, they’re gonna be losing guys, the minute that the season ends no matter what. But this is an impressive year to put it together. And this is their time they have to go win now because they’re not going to have a roster like this forever.

Jason Cole  07:55

No. Eric has done a wonderful job. Things have to do you have to get lucky along the way. Of course you do. You’re you’re making percentage decisions all the time to say, Okay, I believe that this has an X percent amount of work in the draft itself, right? If you’re right in the draft, and the players you pick 55% of the time. You’re, you’re good at your job. But that also means that 45% of the time, you don’t make a good decision, right? That’s That’s how personnel works. That’s how human resources works at any company, right? So you’re, you’re trying to make this work out. And so you signed Odell Beckham? Is he going to be perfect? You don’t know. But you’re hoping that he’s good enough to help and come up with a few big catches along the way. And he acts right. You go and get the kid likely and and is he going to be great or not? You don’t know. But he’s served as a great backup. You know, when Andrews went out, you’ve constructed your defense ex ex way right? Bring in ro Quan decide you’re going to like queen walk, you know, like, how’s it going to happen? And the most important one is you navigated Lamar Jackson, in a way that made Lamar Jackson feel happy to be coming back to the Ravens. Right, because that could have gotten really ugly, and and was sitting on the edge of getting really ugly a couple of times, when Lamar made accusations that the organization put out numbers right. What they did is they allowed the market go with see what the market was knowing full well that if as long as the number wasn’t crazy, they weren’t going to match the deal. And also knowing that most teams didn’t know how to construct that offense with Lamar is their quarterback. So they anticipated the market wouldn’t be as hot as a lot of people would expect. So they did a really great job navigating a very, very difficult negotiation with your best player, or at least your most, certainly your most prominent player. And they made a marketing back happy and getting a contract he was he was satisfied with and

Nestor J. Aparicio  10:19

the level of expectation here for what they’ve done this year, you know, it’s sort of through the ceiling for me to have witnesses for three decades. You’re everybody talking about them and having folks like you on where they sit in the seat. And Luke would say, well, they were this good in 19. They were this good with it, you know, this offense that look like one of those metallic, you know, football sets where they just ran right ran left, and he was such an incredible athlete, doing things differently now, and you talk about throwing the ball and how they want to throw the ball, this mungkin thing and this, I said he looks like Ben Roethlisberger. Sometimes he’s running around looking and waiting to throw, my God, I never, I thought it was instinctive that he would never do that, that they could never convince him that that was a good idea. But this extending the play as a quarterback, not challenging linebackers in safety as a running back has been a real different look the last eight weeks, and with the success they’ve had and steamrolling these teams beginning with the Detroit thing, and really just going on the last eight weeks, him as a pocket passer has worked out better than maybe you and I thought it was going to work out?

Jason Cole  11:32

Yeah, because he’s gotten more accurate as time has gone on, which is a rare thing does for the people who remember Kyle bowler, usually don’t improve your accuracy over time, right? He’s become a more accurate thrower, which is an amazing thing in and of itself. But he but philosophically, it’s exactly what you said, which is, sometimes it’s hard for guys to give up, I’m going to be a runner first. Because they get excited when they get out, you know, and have the ball in their hand and they’re running through the defense and making highlight plays. But at the same time, it’s also a painful way to do business, as he found out the previous two years, like, you know, he sat out a lot of time because he was getting hurt. And if you’re gonna run that much in this league, you’re gonna get hurt. Again, I always come back to there’s only one guy in the history of this league. You know, there’s there’s up and up until a few years ago, there was only the one guy who ran that much consistently was candidate and camp ended his career prematurely. I think that Lamar Jackson ran a lot early in his career, and it was like, You know what, this is probably not the way to make a lot of money. You know, run to throw not run to run. Josh Allen needs to learn to do that. Or he’s going to shorten his career. Russell Wilson extended his career a long time. Forget what Russell Wilson is right now. But he learned very quickly in his career, go rapid that much. Michael Vick suffered a lot because he could never let go of being a runner. Early in his career.

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:15

Jason Cole is here he is his story and for all things football, you can follow his work and I read his book. What are you doing, dude? Give me a little update. Let me know where to find you because you’ve been in several different places, but still covering the game of the way you always covered the game. Yeah,

Jason Cole  13:29

I met the 33rd team, which is a site owned by Joe banner and Mike Tannenbaum and some other folks. You know, Bill Polian writes there, Mike marks writes there, lots of NFL people who keep it very serious about football, you know, wanting to be, you know, wanting to be about the game, which I really, really like writing for them. Also, writing books still got probably four or five different projects and some other entertainment related projects as well that I’m working on trying to get the documentary going, feature film, all that kind of stuff. So we’ll see what happens. But yeah, that’s what I’m doing right now. The 33rd team, it’s a great place to go. And you can find me on Twitter, at J Phil J physical 62 or Jason Cole 62, I should say. And I’m always willing to argue especially with buffalo fans who think that Josh Allen should have been the MVP. They were all over they were all over b two weeks ago, and then all of a sudden they’ve got very quiet.

Nestor J. Aparicio  14:28

Well, it’s playoffs now when it’s put up or shut up. And I would say this to you from a historical perspective. I was talking to Mike Flynn earlier and I had de shine and receive on the show during the crabcake tour back in the summer and the Orioles were on fire. And I just you know I’m talking about stuff and holding up my Peter Frampton belt buckles and having a good time and you know doing and I said Who do you think’s gonna win the championship first and Baltimore? The Orioles are the ravens and the Orioles are on their way to 101 wins. This has been an unprecedented year for both teams to win in the ways that they They’ve won in the San Francisco going right down to the last games of the year beaten up with San Francisco, Miami the whole deal for for Baltimore sports fan. But you know, it hasn’t bared fruit, you know, at this point, and certainly Lamar has been a great quarterback on a second MVP hasn’t bared fruit. And I said to both of them when you think and scheinen sort of flipped, you know, and you know, Dave, as well as anybody covered it covered everything Olympics and all that said, probably neither. And I thought, well, that’s a Debbie Downer thing to say for a guy who lives in Baltimore loves boy, you know, and he’s like, that’s just the odds, the odds are it’s so hard to do. And I said, Well, if I got a bet one, I would go baseball, because I think the football field is crowded for Lamar, because of burrow because of Lawrence, because of mahomes because of Allen, that there will come a point that they’re going to struggle in their own division. I haven’t put Watson in there thinking maybe he’s okay, right. But I’m just saying like the Navigating part. And I’ve watched this for 30 years of winning three games in January against three quarterbacks that are your equal or better. Peyton Manning was a great quarter baby a better quarterback than the brain, he really had a hard time winning, and then you throw Roethlisberger in there and you throw the other Flacco for a little while or omitted all of that. And then how often gets in the way. And I said it’s gonna be hard to me. Now that I sit here. Jason, we’re two weeks. Lamar is on the couch this weekend. Everybody else is playing. Next weekend, it’ll be Flacco Mason, Rudolph, or to a tongue of a low if they can survive five, which, so it’s probably going to be a lesser kind of guy. And then they’re only going to get Allen or mahomes. If they win the first game, this is a different path to navigate than I saw it. When they were looking to sign Lamar. Absolutely.

Jason Cole  16:42

Right. This is perfect. This is the way you want to shape up, you know, Aaron Rodgers gets hurt mahomes You know, the offense around him is not as good all those things that you’re talking about Cleveland, they’re going through, you know, through court, one quarterback after another, they land up black. Yes, this is the setup, not just for Baltimore, and how they have played this season. But it’s the setup for what’s around them to get for the best chance, the best opportunity for the ravens to win the title. I think they’re The overwhelming favorite coming out of the AFC. But I always say this. Cleveland has a hell of a defense. And the city has a hell of a defense in your defensive can travel. Those two teams are troubling and buffalo as much as their Josh Allen is erratic with the ball and create some problems. They do have a heck of a roster. So there’s still three other teams out there that if you tell me that went into Baltimore, and that one would not be shocked in the on the NFC side. I don’t think there’s a single team that I see going into San Francisco and winning. That’s the one that’s the difference. Okay. I don’t see a beating San Francisco, in Santa Clara on out of that bracket. In the AFC bracket. There are still three I see three capable teams.

Nestor J. Aparicio  18:06

Once you start I mean, they’ve done a hell of a job out there right to me, there’s a million miles away from here. We don’t see them until, you know, Christmas night. I mean, but they I mean, Shani has a genius, right?

Jason Cole  18:17

Offensively Yeah, they do some amazing things. But again, there’s a reason they’re one of their own 38 when they’re down by eight points or more in the second half you know under Kyle Shanahan they’re not built to play come back football. Now neither is Baltimore for that, for that, for that matter. So to get control of of a of a game early is is a critical for both San Francisco and for the Raiders, right? You don’t want neither one of those teams wants to play from behind. Okay. And that’s just the way that they’re, they’re, they’ve set up their roster, but the way that they’ve set up the roster, they’re not, they’re not playing from behind very often, you know, and they they’ve maxed out Brock Ferdie they’ve got great weapons around I would love to see a rematch those two teams are neutral field and you know, in Las Vegas, I think that’d be a really fun game. So I I’d love to see the chess match between those two teams.

Nestor J. Aparicio  19:13

Guy always routes for the story because he’s a sports writer Jason Cole joining us here as you can find him out on the Twitter thing also, writing now amongst some professionals and people that have won so that the Chiefs two time winners read you mentioned their defense. They’re a little forgotten in this because they’ve been forgettable, right? Like they it hasn’t been that. Like this, Tom Brady had years where it’s like, they’re not that good. This isn’t their best team. This guy’s old that guy’s beat up. He doesn’t have these weapons. Welker is out whatever it is. This is a real Bucha because he’s never played a game in the playoffs on the road. Which is a crazy stat. Right? Yeah,

Jason Cole  19:55

I mean, look, Patrick mahomes is still Patrick mahomes Right. it and the problem that they’ve had is a very simple one. Their wide receivers do not catch the football. They’re also not very, you know. And it’s the simplest thing in the world, they lead the league and in dropped balls. And they’ve killed themselves, they’ve lost probably three games this season because of dropped passes. Okay, stop dropping passes, and become dangerous again. But the key thing with the chiefs that has made them super competitive is, this is the best defense that they have ever had, in the Patrick mahomes era, by far the best defense that they’ve ever had in the Patrick mahomes defense and then that from mahomes era. So to me, that’s what makes the Chiefs still a very dangerous team because they only have to score 23 or 24 points to be, you know, Baltimore’s the same way you know, they only have to score 2324 They’ve taken a lot of burden off of off of the offense even though the offense is played credibly well what the average putting that in game. One of the top offense is elite, but they don’t have to score like that. And neither did the cheese right now. Which is why I think that’d be a really fascinating a game if both teams played

Nestor J. Aparicio  21:15

Wakko and Cleveland and the defense and Jim Schwartz and just were were they are sort of this weird Dark Horse and they have a winnable game and their favorite this week. I would think Pittsburgh and Miami are going to struggle in Buffalo and Pina and Casey so you would think it Flacco wins we sit around all weekend and without an upset it will be Flacco coming back in where are you with the Browns are first off they get a win this week because that can use and can play a little bit.

Jason Cole  21:43

Getting used to replay I like it but Jim Schwartz with really great players like starting with Miles Garrett and adding in some great DBS that’s a recipe for a four or five sack game, which is gonna make it tough for CJ strap like he’s had a couple of stretches the first two games of the season, he gave up 11 sacks then about five weeks ago, he had a three game stretch where he was sacked 13 times in three games. So look, you can get into this, you can get to confuse strap because he’s still a young player. He’s a great player, but he’s a young player. You see all the profits when but there are times you can throw things at him that are going to make him hesitate. Jim Schwartz can do that. Right. And he has the talent to do that. More importantly, you know, probably the best defensive end in football in in miles Garrett, but you know, when you talk about overall play, you know, both his pass rusher and playing against the run. So he’s got tools there that I think are gonna make this a low scoring game played, you know, the winner probably gets 23 points in this game. And I think Cleveland has enough that they get 23 points and he like he got Flacco in a perfect situation. Which is he can be a brand datakeeper In this cannabis game. And you know, he can make a couple of mistakes. Throw a couple of interceptions, because the defense will cover for as long as he can. I mean his his interception rate is 4% That’s an ungodly high percent interception rate. Okay, but he doesn’t care because he’s playing on house money. Right and, and he’s got a defense that will cover for him. So the Flacco story is terrific and fun. It’s the perfect situation for Flacco because Flacco is one of these guys and you guys saw it for years. Like throw anything you want at him Hit him 18,000 times. That’s what Pittsburgh would do every single time. He’s gonna get up and he’s gonna sling it again and he’s gonna live with the results. One way or the other. He was never a guy who was gonna get uptight. He was never a guy who was going to lose focus on what he was trying to get done. Okay, things were not going to bother Joe Flacco in an open way right. The the only thing he was gonna really ever fight for and be like take a stand on was, look, I think I’m worth this amount of money better payment. And that’s what he made the Baltimore Ravens do when he went out and won that Super Bowl they had to pay him at that point in time. So to me this is this is set up perfectly for Flacco. Cleveland goes into in the US they probably win. And that’s a dangerous game between Cleveland and Baltimore because it is a slugfest it is a classic AFC North game with two great defenses going at it. I think that Lamar is a little more than Cleveland can handle. But look Cleveland beat them earlier this season with a big comeback victory. So Cleveland note feels like they can win that game.

Nestor J. Aparicio  24:56

Is that Tahoe behind you?

Jason Cole  24:58

That’s big sir.

Nestor J. Aparicio  24:59

It speaks writing I couldn’t I couldn’t I couldn’t tell it. I look like

Jason Cole  25:03

this is my back window. Did you know this is my back window? Yeah, I’m living large

Nestor J. Aparicio  25:11

bro spot. Oh, there he is. Cane in there for everybody. Here’s a

Jason Cole  25:17

little that’s a little south of Big Sur because that’s that’s down in Southern California Southern California so I

Nestor J. Aparicio  25:25

drove up I drove up one time in my life in the summer of 1988 with two of my best pals John rapidly Mr. Mark Miller we drove from San Diego up route one did the whole thing all those treacherous little roads so I know a little big sir. All right, you know.

Jason Cole  25:43

The Hearst Castle references is good one. I like that.

Nestor J. Aparicio  25:47

William Randolph first thing my first paycheck ever from the Hearst Corporation at the Baltimore news American so I’ll get received.

Jason Cole  25:56

The William Randolph There you go.

Nestor J. Aparicio  25:57

There you go. And Rosebud is all I’m gonna say to Jason Cole, Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson, Patrick mahomes. Josh Allen. They’ll be on the tongue looks out. No, he’s mills. We had a little bit of a bye week going on here this week to hear Jason next week. It’s all good. We’re at Baltimore positive we’re doing crabcake row beginning February 5. It’s all brought to you by the Maryland lottery junction with window nation and our friends at Jiffy Lube, multi care. Lots of football ahead. Lots of fun. It’s Festivus for the rest of us. I’m Nestor we are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. We never stop talking Baltimore positive

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